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Stunning images, compelling stories mark AP’s volcano coverage

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It was never a question if Mauna Loa would erupt, just a matter of when. That was answered late in the evening of Nov. 27 when the volcano began spewing lava after a 38-year hiatus. AP’s Hawaii staff jumped on the story immediately,relying on a plan that had been put in place last October when there was a heightened state of seismic activity.

Cross-format collaboration was key to AP’s coverage,with reporters Audrey McAvoy and Jennifer Kelleher anchoring stories in Honolulu while Caleb Jones,Haven Daley and Greg Bull provided photos,video and text feeds from the Big Island.

Jones,who is based in Honolulu,and Daley,who flew in from San Francisco,either sent transcriptions or posted their video interviews in Slack for use in the stories. San Diego-based Bull uploaded audio of his interviews, providing us access to real people on the scene and important voices for our stories.

The images the three provided were stunning,capturing the raw force of the crackling,spitting and flowing lava.

McAvoy and Kelleher were able to craft compelling enterprise-off-the-news stories to augment spot coverage. Their stories were among the most read in AP’s daily report. Willette Kalaokahaku Akima told AP she would take her grandchildren to make an offering to Pele,the Hawaiian deity of volcanoes and fire. “This is our time for our kupuna,for our people, and for our children to come and witness what is happening as history is being made.”

McAvoy’s look at previous futile efforts to stop the flow of lava — including soon-to-be Gen. George Patton’s bombing of the volcano in 1935 — was among AP’s top offerings of the day and a top trender on AP platforms. Likewise, Kelleher’s look at the cultural significance of volcanoes to Native Hawaiians was a top 10 story on AP platforms. Both stories had NR/CR videos as well.

The incredible photos from Bull and Jones and videos from Jones and Daley were a major part of the coverage. Jones’ relationship with a local helicopter videographer allowed AP access to incomparable aerial footage of the lava,including spikes going 200 feet into the air early in the eruption.

For spectacular images and video and smart,culturally relevant stories that went beyond the spot news, AP’s coverage of the Hawaii volcano eruption is this week’s Second Winner.

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